For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.
Whilst I have always had a fascination with what happened during the second world war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.
And, so, it continues…
A second report from Blinky’s surveillance of the castle had Leonardo on the move, and a second shadowy person following them.
It had to be Jackerby, Atherton thought. Jackerby would be the only one who didn’t trust anyone, or, perhaps, he had more murderous intentions. Maybe he had worked out that Leonardo was rapidly becoming a liability.
Or he had some other agenda.
“How many of resistance are waiting at the barn?” Atherton asked the soldier.
“Four. The fifth went to find them.”
“OK. Carlo, take some of the soldiers and stop them.”
He grinned. At last.
“I’ll deal with the other man.” I whistled and Jack came over. “We have a job to do, Jack.” He had no idea what I was saying, but his enthusiasm was obvious.
“Taking any prisoners,” Blinky asked.
“If the situation warrants it, but if the fire on us, we fire back.”
“And, once that’s done?”
“We retake the castle.”
“Sounds a bit like a story out of a Boys Own annual.”
“It does. It’ll certainly make a good story to tell your grandchildren one day.”
“If we make it back.”
“We will. If we’re careful and don’t take unnecessary risks. I won’t be bringing a prisoner back. If it’s Jackerby, I have a score to settle with him.”
“Don’t let revenge cloud your judgment.”
“I won’t. See you soon.”
When we reached the woods, on the opposite side of the castle, I planned to come at Jackaby from an angle he would not be expecting anyone.
From the moment we entered the woods, Jack went into what I would call stealth mode as if he was hunting. In a sense he was, and perhaps he knew instinctively what we were looking for.
It took about a half-hour of carefully moving through the woods to get to a point where I could just see Jackerby, sitting beside a tree, watching the barn. I moved a little closer, and the change of angle brought Leonardo and two other men of the resistance, sitting behind the barn, and one of sentry duty, waiting for the fifth to return.
I turned back to see where Jack was, but he had gone off. A rabbit perhaps, or something else.
I moved closer; Jackerby’s attention was fully on the resistance members, so he would not hear me coming.
What was he doing? He was taking an enormous risk coming out of the castle alone or did he think that if I was clever enough to have the castle under surveillance, he could assume I might be stupid enough to follow him.
It was an interesting thought, broken by the sudden rustling through the undergrowth, and then a yelp, as Jack launched himself at Jackerby, taking him completely by surprise, then, when Jackeby tried to get a gun in hand, Jack attacked that hand.
Long enough for me to get there, gun in hand. “Stop resisting, or I’m sure Jack will do some serious damage to that hand.”
It looked serious enough to me.
“So, this is where you’re hiding?”
Curiously, the dog stopped, but remained menacingly close, growling.
“I should have shot that dog when I had the chance.”
Jack moved forward and growled in his face, baring his teeth, and Jackerby shrank back.
“Don’t upset him. He obviously doesn’t like you.”
Our attention was interrupted by gunfire, and a glance over to the barn saw two men with their hands up against the wall, and the two on the ground, including Leonardo. Carlo was in the process of ‘interrogating’ the other two.
“Carlo is not a happy man, Jackerby. And I promised him five minutes alone with you.”
Another glance over at the barn, Carlo was kicking one of the men who had fallen on the ground, with enthusiasm. I didn’t rate the man’s chances of surviving. “You really shouldn’t have let Leonardo mistreat Chiara or Martina, wherever you’ve got her.”
“She is still alive. We can do a deal here, Atherton.”
“The trouble I have with anything you say is that I can’t believe you. I’m sure you’d say or do anything to stay alive and renege the moment you got back to the castle.”
“I give you my word as an officer. We are, like you, men of honor.”
I shook my head. “You’re Gestapo, or worse, Jackerby. And they, as far as I’m concerned, are the lowest of the low, little more than murderous thugs. No.”
I aimed the gun and pulled the trigger.
The only way Jackerby was leaving the woods was as dead weight.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022